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Mivo
06-15-2016, 05:50 AM
(Sorry it's so long and ramble-y.)

It's odd, but with my smaller ukuleles I never really thought much about strings. They mostly came with Worth and Martins, and those worked fine for me. I got a soprano that had Living Water strings on it, and I really liked those, too. And on another uke, I have Aquila Nylguts, which sound good on that particular instrument.

I figured the impact of strings was exaggerated, but then the baritone entered the picture.

It came with linear Ko'olau 50/50 strings, and while I liked the sound, the open D was booming (almost like a buzz, but not quite, just as if it wanted to buzz but didn't dare to). I also didn't quite like the gauge/tension and the feel of the rather thick wound D string that did buzz when not perfectly fretted in the second fret. I suspected the boom might be because of the linear tuning (which I didn't like on my tenor). So, I got a set of re-entrant Living Water strings from Ken.

I liked the feel of the strings, but I didn't like the sound of my Pono when strung with them. Now, I doubt it's the strings. I think it's the material and the tuning. The G string was unimpressive, kind of thuddy, no chime. Overall, the re-entrant dGBE tuning took the life out of my baritone. It's hard to describe. It didn't sound bad, it sounded unremarkable. There was no "Wow!" effect. It sounded a bit muted, in a way, or really, just like an average, lower voiced uke, but nothing about it stood out. No comparison to how it had sounded before (boom and all).

I didn't like that outcome, because I wanted to like it in re-entrant tuning, but well, I don't think that's where this particular instrument's voice is (maybe if it was a vintage baritone with a thin finish and a dried out mahogany top, but this is a high gloss spruce baritone). The linear Ko'olau wound strings hadn't worked for me, either, so what to do?

I had two packs of other baritone strings sitting around, the Aquila Reds and the D'Addario EJ88B. I had read that a few people had liked those, so I started with them. And that was a good call! The two wound strings are noticeably thinner than the wounds the Pono came originally with, and, what's really awesome: The booming is gone! I also feel they squeak less.

They need to settle more, but preliminary impressions are favorable. The G string chimes really nicely, as does the low-D one. The two plain NylTech strings (B and E) are thicker than the fluorocarbon LW ones, but surprisingly (to me) the rather fat B string (.0362/0.92) doesn't sound dull at all.

I'll see how I feel about these in a couple days. I would have liked to avoid the wound strings (mostly because they will need more frequent changing), but I can't deny that they sound more vibrant. Gauge-wise, the D'Addario EJ88B feel great to me, with the tension just the way I like it. And the chime of the instrument is awesome. The open D and G strings audibly resonate for ten plus seconds.

I guess I'll keep the baritone in linear tuning for now. It's not what I would have ideally liked, but I can't deny that it sounds (on this instrument) miles better. I do plan to try re-entrant baritone strings from Southcoast eventually, too, but for now I'm glad I found something that seems to work and that is readily available locally.

Amazing how much strings affect the tone. That wound G string from the D'Addario EJ88B set is miles ahead of the fluorocarbon one ... OK, I'll stop gushing now, but really, it's like night and day. I'll deal with the squeak for a better tone. :)

Update: Currently exploring the Aquila Red Series for baritone! (See further down in this thread.)

JackLuis
06-15-2016, 07:18 AM
I'm watching this closely as I want to try re-entrant tuning on my Big Zebra. It is not as hard to play as I had anticipated. I've spent more on stings in the last year than I did buying the Big Zebra and wanted to hear what others were playing on their bari's before I leaped off into more string purchases. How about some sound samples Mivo?

Griffis
06-15-2016, 07:49 AM
A good buddy of mine sent me a cheap-ish (but a really nice player!) baritone uke a couple months back. When I first came back to the uke, I thought the baritone would be my main instrument. Since then, I have gravitated towards sopranos and concerts, but this bari keeps calling my name. It's the one that is in my bedroom so it's easiest to just grab and play. I like it so much (though it has become more my wife's instrument) and am glad to have it in the arsenal.

Mine is strung linearly and I intend to keep it that way. I will have to ask my friend precisely what he strung it with, but I definitely think they are Aquillas of some variety. I like them a great deal, but since I went on ukulele hiatus a few years back, there are a LOT more string-makers in the game, or at least that I hear about. I very much want to try Worth (I remember hearing of them years back but never tried their offerings) Living Water, Southcoast...

In other words: watching this thread with interest!

hoosierhiver
06-15-2016, 07:55 AM
Try Guadalupe strings for baritones, they even have a DGBE and GCEA sets.

Griffis
06-15-2016, 08:00 AM
Try Guadalupe strings for baritones, they even have a DGBE and GCEA sets.

See, I have never even heard of this company. I am not aware of what all is out there...

sam13
06-15-2016, 08:20 AM
Milo,

As you know we have the same Pono Pro Classic Baritone ... the tone is wonderful, sustain is amazing ...

I was using the 3rd and 4th strings from the D'Addario EJ88B along with the Worth Baritone 1st and 2nd. The tone was amazing ... sustain that lasted for hours, and hours.

Then the 3rd snapped on me, and I put the 3rd string from the Worth Clear Baritone set ... so it is similar with a 4th wound and three Fluorocarbon strings ... like Oasis ... and I couldn't be happier. It really brings a brightness to the warmth and fullness of the Baritone sound.

Thanks for sharing ... it is enjoyable following your Baritone journey.

DownUpDave
06-15-2016, 08:48 AM
As you are finding out lots of baritone love and addicts around here. Strings really do make a difference on a baritone. Baritone has loads of sustain and resonance and when you kill that you lose the endearing quality that is baritone......MELLOW. I found out from tenor that most times a wound string will give that extra warm deep sustain that is delightful.

When going reentrant you can keep the wound third string on and just swap the low D for a high d The reentrant set up will still retain the deep sustain from the now lowest note wound G string. If and when you want to try baritone reentrant I highly recommend it.

Croaky Keith
06-15-2016, 08:54 AM
I just swapped the Aquilas (2 wound/2 nylgut strings) that came on my cedar top Kala for Living Water (all flourocarbons), hoping to like them as much as I do on my concerts. :)

Griffis
06-15-2016, 09:09 AM
...If and when you want to try baritone reentrant I highly recommend it.

Yargh. See, I don't need this kind of pressure! Ha...it's not really an existential crisis or anything, but when I'm playing my bari, I do often wonder about re-entrant tuning on one. I've had a few baritones through the years and never had one that wasn't linear.

it's true what you say about the inherently mellow sound of a bari (at least as it is relative to the typically brighter sopranos and concerts) and I love that quality about it.

I still consider baritones to be ukuleles, but they really are vastly different than smaller sizes. when i grab my soprano or concert I am just more inclined to play upbeat, strummy numbers (which of course they are well suited for) but when I get to that bari I do mostly fingerpicking or attempt chord soloing sorts of things. I approach it more like a classical guitar. It seems that different uke sizes just speak differently to me based on their inherent qualities. I realize this is nothing new to players or people with experience with different types of ukuleles.

In a way I think it correlates well with soprano, alto, tenor and bari saxophones. Many players play all of them but are known for, or tend to focus on one in particular.

PhilUSAFRet
06-15-2016, 09:11 AM
I think any journey toward great baritone strings deserve a stop at Southcoastukes.com

hollisdwyer
06-15-2016, 03:07 PM
I think any journey toward great baritone strings deserve a stop at Southcoastukes.com

I'm getting off at that particular bus stop. My experience with SC has been very positive on a variety of instruments.

billten
06-15-2016, 04:45 PM
Personally i have been loving the balance and feel of the martin bari set lately. Tried Aquila reds and didn't like them, tried the Aquilla Titanium and they were much better but I found the tension too high and seemed a bit off on the bass side. The martins have a lovely balance and i love the slightly looser tension than on the other sets i tried.

Mivo
06-15-2016, 08:53 PM
I think any journey toward great baritone strings deserve a stop at Southcoastukes.com

It's a bit easier when you're in the US and don't have to pay for international shipping (plus import fees if you exceed $50) and wait for delivery, though. I plan to try the Southcoast strings, but I'm more comfortable with getting used to strings that I can easily buy locally (or at least within Europe) so that I don't need to buy them in "bulk" to effectively not pay twice or more as much for a set. If I stick with wound strings (that wear out faster), local availability becomes a bigger factor. I hope that some day Southcoast might get a European distributor.

PhilUSAFRet
06-16-2016, 02:07 AM
Ah yes, I missed that....sorry.

Mivo
06-16-2016, 02:14 AM
They'd definitely my first choice otherwise. I read so much great stuff about them here, and very consistently so. :)

southcoastukes
06-16-2016, 03:30 AM
It's a bit easier when you're in the US and don't have to pay for international shipping (plus import fees if you exceed $50) and wait for delivery, though. I plan to try the Southcoast strings, but I'm more comfortable with getting used to strings that I can easily buy locally (or at least within Europe) so that I don't need to buy them in "bulk" to effectively not pay twice or more as much for a set. If I stick with wound strings (that wear out faster), local availability becomes a bigger factor. I hope that some day Southcoast might get a European distributor.

Hello Mivo,

Thanks for the kind words. The situation you describe is one we've studied quite a lot. Having spent a decade in Central America I'm well acquainted with how things work when you need something from overseas and import duties are one of the factors in your decisions on what to buy. I "suffered" a bit with that situation then, and still do today with the instruments we make there, so we try very hard to make things as easy as we can, and England is obviously one the worlds Ukulele centers.

I'm not sure if you've visited the site lately, but earlier this year we went to a new packaging for overseas shipments that gives us a much lower rate. It's $US5.00 flat rate now (Canada less than that), which is only $US2.15 more than our domestic rate. Of course I understand about the VAT as well, and so it seems your countrymen simply order in small quantities to stay below the threshold. But then again, the great majority of our domestic shipments are single or double set orders, so compared to those, you have the extra $US2.15 and generally two weeks instead of less than one on your delivery.

We also looked at the possibility of a distributor, and who knows what may happen down the road. But a distributor will definitely pay VAT, even though it's on a discounted product and consolidated shipping. By the time they earn something for their efforts (up to them, of course, how much that is) I'm not sure if your cost would be any less. It's too bad you can't take advantage of the flat rate and order several sets without the cost of the VAT, but so far smaller orders seem the best way to go.

Mivo
06-26-2016, 08:48 PM
Time for an update!

So I have been using the D'Addario EJ88B for a while, and overall I still like these. Except for the nylon B string. It's not as resonant as the other strings in the set, because it's relatively thick. This is more apparent a few frets up the neck when playing single notes.

I had another set of Living Water fluorocarbons, so I tried to mix and match a little, but it didn't really give me good results. When I attempted re-entrant dGBE again, either the one wound string (G) stood out too much, or the fluorocarbon G string sounded dull. So both re-entrant and linear tuning were "almost" there, but not quite.

I had a couple sets of Aquila Red Series for the Baritone that I had not tried before. My experience with Aquila for a dGBE tuning on the tenor weren't positive, but the baritone set is entirely different from the tenor set. It comes with two wound strings and two red strings.

The red B string is thinner than the nylon equivalent, and it rings just like the E string. It's noticeably better than the fluorocarbon and nylon B strings that I've tried. I feel this set is overall more balanced (even though it looks mismatched (https://www.dropbox.com/s/q8hwc7t7538642x/Photo%2027-06-16%2008%2000%2040.jpg)). I like that the diameters of all four strings are closer together than with other sets I've used so far.

Those red strings stretch like crazy, so it takes a bit longer for things to get in tune. So far, this is my favorite pre-assembled set of baritone strings that are readily available over here. Nothing has snapped yet, though the reds have almost a chalk-like texture that is unusual. They sound great, though.

I hope these will work out. If not, I'll try some guitar strings or import the SC sets. :)

JJFN
06-27-2016, 03:34 AM
I think any journey toward great baritone strings deserve a stop at Southcoastukes.com

You"re right Phil, I use LL-WB's, tuned linear C and they are the best I have found. My Kamaka Baritone plays beautifully with these outstanding strings.